When my son was born, I experienced a traumatic childbirth during which I almost died. A lengthy struggle with postpartum depression followed. For nearly a decade, I couldn’t talk about “it” or the first year of my son’s life. Then I came across a birth-story contest by the Doula Support Foundation on the Federation of BC Writers Facebook page.
I hadn’t written in many years but had always hoped to get back to it. It was a dream of mine that I had roundhouse kicked aside out of a lack of time and an abundance of insecurity.
Initially, I had only intended to write about my daughter’s simpler, safer birth. But after I’d written her story, I knew I needed to write my son’s. I hadn’t planned on submitting it, as I didn’t think that the Doula Support Foundation would be interested in sharing what could go horribly wrong in the delivery room.
Starting with research, I ordered my hospital records. My memories were in and out—as my consciousness had been. The documents confirmed everything I remembered, had been told, and more. I’d had no clue that my son’s life had been at risk too. I cried for days. Different tears than in the past. These were tears of acceptance. Out of those records and grief came strength.
I wrote and wrote and wrote. Inspired by a contest with a two-thousand-word limit, I wrote an entry three times as long. Whereas I’d submitted my daughter’s story comfortably, I agonized over my son’s—every single word. I flip-flopped right up until twenty minutes before the deadline, and in one bold and terrifying moment, I hit Send.